According to a private intelligence dossier highlighted by Germany’s Der Spiegel in a recent report, there are about two neo-Nazi organizations that are operating with the Russian military in Ukraine, calling into doubt the Kremlin’s vows of “denazification” of its neighbor. The BND (German Federal Intelligence Service) intelligence organization did not disclose a specific figure of right-wing extremist militants in a dossier distributed to German governmental agencies, however, it did name these radical groups as the Russian Imperial Legion and Task Force Rusich.
BND is described as claiming that their participation “makes the putative justification for conflict, the ‘denazification’ of Ukraine, ludicrous.” Both the radical militant organizations are also considered to have taken part in the 2014 conflict in eastern Ukraine involving Kremlin-financed pro-Russian rebels and the Ukrainian armed forces. Numerous stories have tied Task Force Rusich to Wagner, a mysterious private mercenary firm with close connections to the Putin regime.
On February 24, Russia moved soldiers into Ukraine with the claimed goal of “denazifying and demilitarising” its pro-NATO neighbor, eventually moving its emphasis to eastern Ukraine by the end of March for the operation’s stage two. The Russian Imperial Legion is the militant branch of the openly neo-fascist Russian Imperial Movement, which was labeled as a terrorist group by the United States government back in 2020. According to the BND assessment, “whether this decision [to join the fight in Ukraine] was taken at the behest of or in conjunction with the Russian leadership” is unknown.
According to the article by Der Spiegel, the Russian Imperial Legion had revealed its intention to fight in Ukraine immediately after its head Denis Gariyev urged followers to “be patient” at the beginning of March. Rusich is thought to have gotten engaged during the first weeks of April. As per The Times, Rusich leaders Alexei Milchakov and Yan Petrovsky first encountered each other at a Russian Imperial Movement paramilitary program. Both of them have been shown in a picture carrying a Swastika flag as well as performing a Nazi salute in the BND dossier highlighted in Der Spiegel.